Machine learning detects multiplicity of the first stars in stellar archaeology data

Tilman Hartwig, Miho N. Ishigaki, Chiaki Kobayashi, Nozomu Tominaga, Ken'ichi Nomoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In unveiling the nature of the first stars, the main astronomical clue is the elemental compositions of the second generation of stars, observed as extremely metal-poor (EMP) stars, in our Milky Way Galaxy. However, no observational constraint was available on their multiplicity, which is crucial for understanding early phases of galaxy formation. We develop a new data-driven method to classify observed EMP stars into mono- or multi-enriched stars with Support Vector Machines. We also use our own nucleosynthesis yields of core-collapse supernovae with mixing-fallback that can explain many of observed EMP stars. Our method predicts, for the first time, that $31.8\% \pm 2.3\%$ of 462 analyzed EMP stars are classified as mono-enriched. This means that the majority of EMP stars are likely multi-enriched, suggesting that the first stars were born in small clusters. Lower metallicity stars are more likely to be enriched by a single supernova, most of which have high carbon enhancement. We also find that Fe, Mg. Ca, and C are the most informative elements for this classification. In addition, oxygen is very informative despite its low observability. Our data-driven method sheds a new light on solving the mystery of the first stars from the complex data set of Galactic archaeology surveys.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.CO


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